Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

FROM THE PUBLISHER > >Hillary’s loss reminiscent of stumble by Bill in ’80

Hillary Clinton is giving up her dream of becoming president anytime soon, but she said on Tuesday she’d consider the second spot on the ticket.

Why shouldn’t she? Although she fell short in the delegate count, before yesterday’s primaries, she outpolled Barack Obama in the popular vote, 17,428,986 to 17,266,433.

Even if Obama won’t consider her as his running mate, delegates to the Democratic convention will demand he pick her for vice president.

For the Clintons, this sorry primary season is 1980 all over again.

Gov. Bill Clinton was in his first term and was supposed to win easily against an unknown named Frank White, who beat Clinton easily that fall.

Bill didn’t think he had to campaign against an inexperienced upstart, but by the time he realized White was a serious challenger, the game was over.

The Clintons completely underestimated Barack Obama’s political skills and let him out-hustle them in the Democratic caucuses. Obama is far more gifted than the late Frank White — who lasted only one term before Bill defeated him in a second go round — and it turns out Obama was a smoother operator than the Clintons, who now can only hope that Hillary will be asked to join the ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

Obama and Hillary would make a formidable team against John McCain and whoever his VP choice turns out to be. Whether the Democrats win or lose, she will still be in her 60s when she gets another shot at the presidency.

Still, you can’t make too many predictions in politics. When the smart money was still betting on Hillary Clinton win ning the Democratic presidential nomination, Pulaski County Circuit-County Clerk Pat O’Brien threw his support behind Barack Obama and opened his Arkansas headquarters in Little Rock back in January.

All the prominent Democrats were for Hillary, and many of them thought O’Brien had lost his political touch. But he is a canny operator — after all, he brought his office into the 21st Century in a matter of weeks after succeeding a longtime incumbent who was still stuck in the 19th Century.

We’re not the best handicappers, which is why, even a few weeks ago, we thought Hillary still had a chance of winning the nomination. But she couldn’t convince Democratic Party officials to let her have the disputed delegates from Michigan and Florida, which doomed her chances of closing the gap with Obama.

The race is over for now, but O’Brien likes the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket.

“I know I won’t be consulted,” O’Brien said Tuesday, “but it would be a great idea. Sen. Clinton ran a strong race. Once the dust settles, I hope we can come together. I don’t want another four years of a third Bush term.”